Today many countries around the world celebrate Holy Innocent’s Day, or Childermas, a feast day which commemorates the massacre of the baby boys which King Herod ordered in Bethlehem, in an attempt to kill the infant Jesus Christ. The story of the massacre is told in the Gospel of Matthew:
“Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” (Matthew 2:16-18, King James Version)
These innocent infants were seen by the Catholic Church as the very first martyrs and this feast day was marked in Tudor England.
Today, in some countries, people mark this day by playing tricks on friends and family members. We’ve just been for breakfast at our local bar here in Spain and our friendly barman told us that we couldn’t have our usual order because he’d run out. He then laughed and said he hadn’t really and that it was “Día de los Santos Inocentes”. It’s just like April Fools.
Image: Massacre of the Innocents, Peter Paul Rubens.